Washington, DC - Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) and Congressman Keith Rothfus (PA-12) introduced the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2018 (H.R. 6069). This bipartisan bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex or drug trafficking and propose regulatory and legislative actions to put an end to these illicit activities. Through the Comptroller General’s findings and proposals, Congress would craft legislative solutions to regulate the use of virtual currencies to prevent crimes such as sex trafficking and illegal drug sales.

“The anonymity behind virtual currencies has made them a preferred payment method to carry out illegal activities,” said Rep. Juan Vargas. “Congress must understand the full extent of how virtual currencies are being used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking and propose legislative solutions to fight these crimes.”

“Illicit markets where drug and human trafficking take place are evolving, especially in the dark web,” said Congressman Rothfus. “Traffickers exploit new technology like virtual currencies to facilitate their crimes. This legislation will help the government expose new methods that criminals use to move illicit funds, and also find ways to stop them. I am proud to work with Congressman Vargas in the fight against drug and human trafficking.”

Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, Dash, Zcash, and Monero, can be used for legal purchases. However, the anonymity associated with virtual currencies has led them to become a preferred financial payment method for illicit activities. Virtual currencies have become a prominent method to pay for goods and services associated with illegal sex and drug trafficking, which are two of the most detrimental and troubling illegal activities facilitated by online marketplaces and the dark web.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 National Drug Assessment, transnational criminal organizations are increasingly using virtual currencies for illicit activities, including drug trafficking. It has also been reported that virtual currencies are being used to run illegal online marketplaces to sell drugs, including the opioid fentanyl, and contributing to the opioid crisis in America.

While evidence points to the growth of virtual currencies as a payment method for illicit sex and drug trafficking, the true scope of the problem and potential solutions have not been fully established. H.R. 6069 would study and analyze how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking to determine how to fight these illicit and harmful activities.